GEAR REVIEW: Wiser Precision PH-170 Nighthawk Pan Head

By Johnny Mack

When it comes to backpack hunting, ounces always matter. Period. Having solid and reliable gear can also be the difference between a notched tag and a trip cut short. In this review we are diving into the Wiser Precision PH-170 Nighthawk Ultralight Pan Head. This is the first pan head that marks all the boxes that you might have when looking for a sturdy and ultralight pan head.

The first time I used the Nighthawk pan head from Wiser Precision was on a backcountry black bear hunt in the mountains of Idaho and all I can say is “WOW!” This panhead is like the mighty mouse of pan heads and extremely efficient. In the past I have used multiple ball heads, Vortex Optics pan heads and even Manfrotto heads, ultimately finding flaws in all of them and unsatisfied.

The Manfrotto BeFree head I was using seemed ideal until you had to attach their giant mounting plates to everything you wanted to use it with, which for me was my camera, spotting scope and bino adapter. Their plates are bulky, proprietary and heavy. Which is definitely not ideal when counting ounces.

The Vortex Optics Pan Heads that come on their tripods work and are Arca-Swiss compatible but are clunky and not smooth. The different ball heads I have used are smooth, use Arca-Swiss compatible plates but tend to be very heavy.

I am always on the lookout for new and better gear, and that is how I came across Wiser Precision. It is light, small, smooth, Arca-Swiss compatible and can handles an 85mm spotting scope and camera with a telescopic lense with ease.


  • Small
  • Lightweight
  • Very Packable
  • Carbon Fiber handle that you can replace with a knob if preferred
  • Arca-Swiss compatible
  • Great ergonomics
  • Lifetime Limited Warranty


  • The large knob for tightening the Arca-Swiss mount can interfere with mounting a camera body which causes the camera to sit tilted slightly and the knob hard to tighten or loosen.
  • Pricey but worth it in the end


  • $299.99
  • Made in the USA!
  • 3/8-16 mounting threads to attach to any standard tripod base
  • 2 Way Pan Head with independent control of tilt and pan axis
  • ARCA-Swiss Head mount with base included
  • Weight – 4.9 oz (with aluminum knob to replace carbon fiber handle)/ 6.1 oz (with carbon fiber handle)
  • Length: 7″
  • Height: 3″
  • Width: 3″
  • Extra Locking Knob (to use in place of carbon fiber handle 1.2oz weight savings)

All in all, I don’t think I will ever need to use another tripod head when hunting as the Nighthawk seems to be the answer I have been looking for and what I recommend you checking out as well. Thanks for reading this review.  If you want to know more about the Wiser Precision PH-170 Nighthawk Ultralight Pan Head and our experience with it, feel free to ask by clicking HERE. You can also learn more about Wiser Precision and their founder Shane Wise, by listening to Ep. 158 of The Soulful Hunter Podcast (YouTube Version).  In the meantime make sure to check out my show SOUL SEEKERS on CarbonTV as well as follow us on Instagram @Washington_Backcountry.  Knowledge is power and MENTORSHIP IS CONSERVATION.

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